Teaching Students About Linda Harrison


As educators, it is important to introduce students to individuals who have significantly impacted society, broken barriers, and inspired change. One such individual is the talented and ground-breaking actress, Linda Harrison. By teaching students about Linda Harrison’s life and career, we can inspire a new generation to challenge preconceived notions of race, gender, and achievement.

Early Life and Career

Born in Berlin, Maryland on July 26, 1945, Linda Harrison displayed a passion for the performing arts at an early age. She began her career as a beauty queen, winning competitions such as Miss Berlin and Miss American Beauty. Her talent and dedication caught the attention of Hollywood studio executives, ultimately leading her to sign with 20th Century Fox.

Harrison’s Acting Breakthrough: Planet of the Apes (1968)

Linda Harrison’s breakthrough role came in 1968 when she was cast as Nova in the iconic science fiction film “Planet of the Apes.” The film was a critical and commercial success that featured a powerful message about human nature and the potential dangers of social hierarchy. Harrison’s role showcased not only her acting skills but also a strength of character that transcended racial barriers.

Beyond Planet of the Apes

Following “Planet of the Apes”, Linda went on to reprise her role as Nova in its sequel – “Beneath the Planet of the Apes” (1970). Despite these early successes in her career, she faced challenges due to stereotyping and typecasting. Harrison worked diligently to pursue more diverse roles that allowed her to demonstrate her versatility as an actress.

Throughout her career, Linda appeared in numerous films and television shows such as “Cocoon,” its sequel “Cocoon: The Return,” “Airport 1975,” “Wonder Woman,” and “Barnaby Jones,” among others.

Importance of Teaching Students About Linda Harrison

Highlighting Linda Harrison’s achievements and struggle against typecasting creates an opportunity to explore critical social issues in the classroom such as race, gender, and the entertainment industry. Students can engage in discussions about the obstacles Harrison faced as a woman of color and how her career choices and successes contributed to breaking down racial barriers in Hollywood.

Classroom Activities for Teaching About Linda Harrison

1. Biography Assignment: Encourage students to research Linda Harrison’s life and career. They can write a biography highlighting her roles, achievements, and challenges she faced in the entertainment industry.

2. Film Analysis: Screen one or more of Linda Harrison’s films for the students, and then analyze her performance, focusing on how she embodied her characters and overcame racial stereotypes.

3. Panel Discussion: Host a panel discussion in class where students present different aspects of Linda Harrison’s career, focusing on how she broke through racial barriers and helped pave the way for other actors of color in Hollywood.

4. Creative Project: Invite students to create art pieces such as posters or short stories inspired by Linda Harrison’s life and work. These creations can be displayed around the classroom or halls to share with fellow students.


Teaching students about pioneers like Linda Harrison helps them understand the importance of perseverance and challenging societal limitations. In doing so, we encourage our students to forge new paths, be their authentic selves, and create a more inclusive world where everyone can thrive.

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